Blue-and-white buckles down late to beat Italy

The national team dropped to its third defeat in four tune-up encounters on Saturday, losing 75-72 to Poland after squandering a 14-point advantage.

August 18, 2013 23:06
1 minute read.
Casspi helps fend off Italy.

omri casspi israel national game 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Israel Basketball Association)


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Israel gathered some muchneeded confidence on Sunday night, snapping a three-game losing streak with a 78-74 victory over Italy in Antwerp, Belgium, in its latest warm-up game ahead of next month’s EuroBasket tournament.

The national team dropped to its third defeat in four tune-up encounters on Saturday, losing 75-72 to Poland after squandering a 14-point advantage.

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The blue-and-white also held a 14-point lead over Italy in the fourth quarter on Sunday, before collapsing in what is becoming characteristic fashion late in the game, almost gifting Italy the win.

However, after losing 67-64 to the Italians last week, Israel got the victory it was so desperate for on Sunday, with Omri Casspi leading the team yet again with 17 points.

Yotam Halperin added 13 points and Lior Eliyahu scored 11 for Israel, which is playing in Belgium without injured starting center Alex Tyus.

“We finally won a tight game and that was important, even though it was our fault that it became tight,” said Israel coach Arik Shivek.

“We played really well defensively in the second half. There is still plenty of room for improvement, but that is the case with all the teams which are preparing for the European Championships. Everyone is trying different lineups and making sure the players don’t get too tired.”

The national team faces Belgium, which thrashed Italy 76-57 on Saturday, in its final game of the tournament in Antwerp on Monday. The squad will visit Yad Vashem on Wednesday before playing Georgia twice (August 26 and 28) in its final tune-up games ahead of the EuroBasket tournament in Slovenia.

Israel will face France, the runners-up from 2011, as well as Germany, Great Britain, Belgium and Ukraine in EuroBasket Group A, which will be played in Ljubljana.

The top three teams from each group will progress to the second round.

The national team opens its campaign against Great Britain on September 4, before facing Ukraine (September 5), France (September 6), Belgium (September 8) and Germany (September 9).

On TV: Belgium vs Israel (live on Sport5 at 9:30 p.m.)

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